Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was continuing to recover from a tough week that saw both the dazzling escape of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and a disappointing show for its historic oilfield auction. Still, there were some hopeful statistics for the president to tout: New government figures released Monday showed that homicides fell again last year from the year before, making for a continuous downward streak since Peña Nieto first took office.
The national statistics office published its most recent homicide tally Monday, showing 19,669 homicides for 2014, or a rate of 16 per 100,000 people. That marks a 27 percent decrease in homicides since 2012, when Peña Nieto first stepped into office, and a 37 percent increase since Mexican homicide figures hit their peak in 2011. The figures include intentional as well as unintentional killings.
Peña Nieto said earlier this month that numbers were still on their way down in 2015. Speaking at a governor’s appointment ceremony in early July, he said Mexico saw a 27 percent decline in intentional homicides in the first five months of 2015 compared to the same period a year before, in addition to a 23.2 percent drop in kidnappings. Extortions also fell by 22.4 percent in early 2015, he said, crediting structural reforms for the recent shifts.
Although the killings were on the wane for the country as a whole, the violence was rising in certain parts of the country. In Michoacán, where autodefensas, or vigilante groups, have been more and more visible, the 2014 homicide rate was the highest the state had seen since 2009, with 931 deaths. Guerrero, the state that served as the flashpoint for nationwide outrage last year following the disappearance of 43 students allegedly at the hands of police and local criminal groups, remained one of the most violent states in the country, with 1,719 homicides last year.
Violence in Mexico jumped under the administration of former President Felipe Calderon, who launched the so-called War on Drugs, backed by U.S. help. President Peña Nieto entered into office with a pledge to stem the everyday violence that resulted from the escalating fighting between government forces and drug organizations, which increasingly enveloped civilians over the years. Although the 2014 figures showed the downward trend was continuing, Mexico still has a ways to go before reaching homicide figures from a decade ago, which stood at 8,867 homicides in 2007.
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